I have been in County Durham for almost a month, I have explored many beaches, swum in the sea, visited Durham, taken a walk down the magical Castle Eden Dene and more. I have unpacked every box, hung pictures, cut the grass three times, and welcomed visiting family and friends. Visiting Circuit Stewards reckoned it looks like I have been here for years. The trauma of moving day feels like it is in the past, I have fixed the damaged canvas and the books are jostling for space on the shelves, there are shelves in the garage, so I am pondering bringing them in, not sure I can be bothered…
Oh and I have just about got my head around the crazy heating system, it seems to have about a dozen controllers, and I have an unconnected smart meter, if only I could get through to SSE to talk to them about it, three aborted attempts so far! Hanging on the phone for hours, waiting for my call to become important, I expect they will talk to me when they have decided that I owe them money! Of course along with everyone else I do have concerns about how much that money will be.
So, my welcome service is set for this coming Saturday at 3pm, the hopefulness with which I was asked if my family would be attending was sweet, but utterly unrealistic, I am quite simply not asking my children to bring their children to a Methodist Welcome Service, and we certainly aren’t going to play happy families for them, my one and nearly 3 year old grandsons wouldn’t appreciate it, my granddaughters have other things to do, and like many families we suffer from rifts and breaks etc, I refuse to say we are broken, we simply aren’t the lovely squeaky clean image that most church members long for, I wonder if they have ever seen a perfect family, and it they did, how long it took for the mask to slip? Note to congregations, lift the expectations from ministers families, and set them free!
That said, I am grateful that a number of friends will be joining me, some are relatively new, and others have travelled with me through the difficulties of the last 10+ years and know where I am coming from. They know me faults and flaws, and I will be grateful for their support again. I know that there are people praying for me, and am thankful for that.
I have other things to be thankful for, the location suits me well, though I have noticed how far north I am as the temperature drop in the evenings is noticeable now, the cats have taken to sleeping upstairs then, though they happily go out on the prowl, I haven’t noticed any other cats in the neighbourhood, possibly the proximity of the A19, but given that my two run if an engine starts I suspect they will stay well away from there, it is further away than the main bus root was in Blackpool and they survived that. They are 13, this is not the time to suggest to them that they might like to be indoor cats, also I’d like my furniture to survive a little longer.
This week I have looked at the readings for next week, reminding myself that with Thursday being the 1st September, with friends staying Friday and Saturday nights, along with the welcome service on the 3rd, that maybe getting ahead of the curve is a good plan. I’ve also put some dates in my diary, they are not daunting, and I suspect that I will settle into the rhythm of things, if there is one, as we are still very much in a post-covid situation,
To my joy I have 5 forms declaring me to be the appointed person- it actually says Responsible Authorised Person- to conduct marriages both a man and a woman, and couples of the same sex. I completely agree with these appointments so won’t be contacting the registrar, or the building trustees on that matter. I am so glad that I don’t need to conduct all of the conversations again, so grateful that I don’t have to meet yet again with animosity regarding who I am, though I did make a lesbian joke when discussing a particular application for marriage with one of my colleagues, I am not sure it was thought to be very funny. Note to self, check you humour! For those who know it included U-Haul trucks… second dates etc.
So, this is a beginning of sorts, but it is also a continuation, a continuation of a call followed through many ups and downs, from the point where I was once told that I had stolen, yes stolen, my now ex-husbands ministry, not by him, but by someone close to him. As we are very different people, and he is also in ministry, I would now answer such an accusation in a much more robust way that I did at the time, me feminism would definitely be showing. It makes me glad that I listened to the Holy Spirit and returned to a training weekend, having initially driven away declaring it not to be for me. I have pondered throwing in the towel many times, particularly over the last few years, the pandemic hit me hard, physically, mentally and spiritually, like many of the churches I serve I am emerging but have no idea if there is firm ground, other than in the trust that God hold it all, all of the turbulence, and all of the questioning, all of the change and all of the changes to come.
I am starting in a new direction on my continued journey of discipleship, looking to follow the example of Jesus who relied upon the Spirit and trusted in God the creator, giving us a pattern to follow, to walk through many little deaths and resurrections, becoming and being, running and stumbling. I have nothing to prove, I know my call, and will seek to live into it. I am not daft, I know there will be those who like me, and those who don’t, my predecessor was a much better pastor than I am, and I cannot be her, I am mission focused, and a big picture person, I will continue to be those, for that is who I am. We will get to know one another slowly, I trust that all will be well.